JSTOR, MIT Press Illustrate the Positive Impact of Open Access in Recent Reports

JSTOR’s Path to Open pilot project and MIT Press’s Direct to Open program are both demonstrating that open access (OA) monographs are receiving significantly more use and are cited more often than non-open counterparts, according to a recent JSTOR webcast and an impact report released last week by MIT Press. 

Open Access logo (a stylized orange lock in unlocked position)JSTOR’s Path to Open pilot project and MIT Press’s Direct to Open (D2O) program are both demonstrating that open access (OA) monographs are receiving significantly more use and are cited more often than non-open counterparts, according to a recent JSTOR webcast and an impact report released last week by MIT Press. JSTOR reports that ebooks that have been converted to OA via the Path to Open pilot have seen usage surge by an average of 5,500 percent on JSTOR.

Rebecca Seger, VP institutional participation and strategic partnership for JSTOR, noted during the webcast, “Continuing the Journey on a Path to Open: An Innovative Model for Open Access Monograph Publishing,” that JSTOR has more than 125,000 licensed ebooks on its platform, but its 11,000 OA ebooks account for 45 percent of total ebook usage. Similarly, non-OA monographs sell to an average of 14 countries, while JSTOR’s OA monographs are used in 134 countries. “It is phenomenal reach,” she said.

Launched in January 2023, the Path to Open pilot model is funded by annual subscription fees from participating institutions. These fees are then redistributed to more than 40 participating university presses at $5,000 per OA title. Currently, titles for the pilot are selected using criteria established based on titles in JSTOR disciplines that have the highest-licensed open and converted-to-open usage, and 71 percent of all titles in the project match the top 26 recommended JSTOR disciplines, according to the webcast.

During a three-year embargo period, participating institutions have exclusive OA access to these titles, while non-participating institutions can continue to pay for the monographs. At the end of the three-year embargo, converted titles become OA for everyone, and can be published on any platform in addition to JSTOR. One hundred Path to Open titles were published in 2023, and JSTOR plans to have at least 1,000 frontlist titles published over the course of the pilot, which will conclude in 2026.

Separately, MIT Press reports that, on average, its OA humanities and social sciences (HSS) titles are accessed 3.75 times more often and receive 21 percent more citations than their paywalled counterparts, while OA titles in science, technology, engineering, art/design, and mathematics (STEAM) are used 2.67 times more often and receive 15 percent more citations than paywalled counterparts.

Launched in 2021 following two years of development, MIT’s D2O program each year makes 80 to 90 MIT Press scholarly monographs and edited collections open access. In its first three years, the program has funded 240 books, including 159 HSS titles and 81 STEAM titles. Funding for the program is provided by recurring fees from participating institutions. Participating libraries also receive term access to about 2,500 backlist/archive titles that would otherwise be paywalled, and substantial discounts on MIT Press’s trade books collection. Participation fees are scaled to a library’s size, type, and collections budget.

“Open access is very important in my field of anthropology,” Elizabeth Carpenter-Song, research associate professor in the department of anthropology at Dartmouth College and author of Families on the Edge: Experiences of Homelessness and Care in Rural New England, said in MIT’s impact report. “Our work often speaks to issues that are relevant to non-specialists and open access helps to build bridges to other fields and audiences. The D2O version of my book has enabled me to reach colleagues in anthropology, as well as clinical and social services and community stakeholders who have used the book to inform their understanding of regional housing issues. I firmly believe that the open access option has allowed the book to be much more broadly disseminated and used.”

JSTOR’s one-hour Path to Open webcast, hosted by LJ, is free and available on demand. In addition to an overview of the program from Seger and JSTOR VP of Published Content John Lenahan, it includes presentations by Jennie Collinson, director of sales and marketing, Liverpool University Press; Mary Dougherty, director, University of Massachusetts Press; Kate McCready, visiting program officer for academy-owned scholarly publishing, Big Ten Academic Alliance; Sarah McKee, project manager, amplifying humanistic scholarship, American Council of Learned Societies; and Tony Sanfilippo, director, Ohio State University Press.

“We see [Path to Open] as the road to creating a sustainable model for open monographs,” Seger said. “It is really more of a marathon than a sprint, and we’re still at the beginning of the race.”

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Matt Enis



Matt Enis (matthewenis.com) is Senior Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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